- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Tofurkymobile plows on, long after the day of real turkey gobbling has passed and the seasonal jokes about tofu raised “in the wild” have been shelved for another year.

The virtual mobile is part of a larger national movement to reduce carbon emissions by retooling holiday traditions.

Seth Tibbott, president of Turtle Island Foods and creator of the round, brown, meatless roast, said he created the virtual Tofurkymobile to represent the amount of carbon saved when American carnivores go meatless for a day.

Talk about no carbon footprint, the cartoon of the little wooden car is 7 tons lighter than its more famous counterpart, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, and is fueled by consumers who pledge to go meatless for a day.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to get this to the East Coast by Thanksgiving?’” Mr. Tibbott said.

The Tofurkymobile has travelled 53,000 virtual miles based on Turtle Island’s estimates that eating meat each day is equivalent to driving a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon 16.5 miles.

Carbon-footprint calculating has become fairly common, with states and cities coming up with plans to cut carbon emissions.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced this week the city would replace all of the light bulbs on Broadway with energy-efficient bulbs and begin using more environmentally friendly stage sets.

As the green movement has become more in vogue in the last few years, activists have hung their green pitches on holiday trappings.

Students at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania plan to decorate a Christmas tree with trash, to highlight sustainability efforts.

For those looking to forgo a trash tree this Christmas, environmentalists suggest buying a real tree instead of a plastic tree, or buying a live tree and replanting it after the holidays.

“There’s an emerging awareness of the consumer looking at their green and sustainable choices,” Mr. Tibbott said.

Last year, the company’s sales of tofurky roasts jumped 37 percent. “We were trying to figure what was going on,” Mr. Tibbott said. The answer: greener holiday consumption.

Turtle Island expects to sell 300,000 tofurky roasts this year, up from the 500 roasts it sold when it first marketed them in 1995, but still a paltry number in comparison with the 271 million turkeys raised in the U.S. in 2007. About one-third of U.S. turkey consumption is in the form of the traditional roasted bird between Thanksgiving and Christmas, while much of the rest is lunch meat or processed products such as turkey ham and turkey salami.

Despite the relative popularity of “green” holiday trimmings, Mr. Tibbott’s expectations are modest.

“There will be one or two vegetarians at a meal, and it’s hard to figure out, how do you quickly serve this segment?” Mr. Tibbott said. “That’s where the Tofurky shines. Cover it up, throw it in there next to the turkey, and everyone’s satisfied. ‘What do you want: turkey, or Tofurky?’”

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